Athletics 7, Tigers 2
DETROIT (AP)—Rich Harden is good even when he’s not feeling great.
“I didn’t have my best stuff,” Harden said. “But I battled and got some timely double plays, and the bats helped.”
Harden (3-0) struck out six in six innings. The 21-year-old pitcher has allowed just four runs in 27 innings with 22 strikeouts in four starts since Oakland purchased his contract from Triple-A Sacramento on July 17.
“I’m really not that surprised,” Harden said. “I’m not expecting to get lit up. I’ve always been competitive, at every level.”
Harden retired all 39 batters he faced at Double-A Midland to start the year. Then the British Columbia native was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento, where he was 9-4. He earned the starting nod for the World team in the All-Star Futures game.
He kept the Tigers guessing all night.
Leadoff hitter Alex Sanchez struck out after watching consecutive pitches at 97 and 84 mph.
Detroit’s Dmitri Young had some success against Harden with two singles, but he was still impressed.
“He has an explosive fastball, great slider, sick changeup and a nasty split,” Young said. “The thing with him is, don’t get two strikes.”
The Tigers, who easily own baseball’s worst record, have lost seven of eight.
Detroit’s starting pitching was relatively solid earlier in the year, but has struggled from top to bottom in recent weeks.
“For the future, I almost think it’s better for this to happen now so that they don’t go through the whole year and nothing happens bad,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “We’re going to have to fight through this, and guys are going to have to do some soul-searching during the offseason and figure things out for next year.”
Young singled and scored to tie it 1-1 in the second inning, but Oakland quickly regained the lead for good in the third.
Chavez broke the tie with a two-run double before Tejada drove him in with a double of his own. Tejada scored on Erubiel Durazo’s double.
Nate Cornejo (5-10) gave up six runs, eight hits and two walks in 4 1-3 innings, one start after not lasting an inning and giving up nine runs at Seattle.
“When (Cornejo) goes bad, he’s up and he doesn’t have the kind of stuff, the kind of velocity that he can get by with,” Trammell said. “It just seemed like all night when he needed to make his pitches, he couldn’t get down.”
Ramon Hernandez hit a sacrifice fly to put Oakland ahead 6-1 in the fifth. Young made it 7-2 with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.
Oakland’s Chris Singleton added a run with a double in the sixth.
Detroit catcher A.J. Hinch left the game in the eighth with a groin injury. He was on the DL for two weeks last month with a groin injury. … Tejada had just two RBIs over 21 games before his recent streak. … Harden and Bonderman were roommates during spring training last year, before Bonderman was traded to Detroit. … Cornejo had won two of three before giving up 15 runsand losing his past two starts.